Ask anyone that resides near the West Coast what is the most scenic thing to do, the answer is always the same, the Pacific Coast Highway in California and US 101 which hugs the coast in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. To drive this stretch of highway takes time and should be broken into sections. Whereas the Southern section of San Diego was bustling with people on the beaches with high surfs, the Long Beach section is more deserted this time of year and most of the towering cliffs along the shore are not as dramatic. However, the Los Angeles area has the ever so popular towns of Santa Barbara, Malibu, and Santa Monica.
The beauty of Santa Barbara lies next to the ocean waves and backed by the Santa Ynez Mountains. Not only is Santa Barbara a favorite getaway for Hollywood celebrities, which some have estates here, the town has some outstanding history. What better way to experience some history of Santa Barbara than by visiting the Old Mission Santa Barbara and The El Presidio? The mission sits on thirteen acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The grounds include a historic cemetery and Mausoleum, Mission Church, and a nine-room museum with artifacts and historical artwork. Lush gardens surround the buildings including the historic Huerta Garden with ancient Mission-era plants and trees. Whereas The El Presidio buildings are the last of the four military outposts, which were built by the Chumash Indians under the direction of Spanish Solders. This Presidio was founded in 1782 during the American Revolutionary War which played a vital role from foreign invasion. Today two of the original remaining sections are the El Cuartel which is the second oldest building in California and the Canedo Adobe.
Just West of Los Angeles along the foot hills of the Santa Monica Mountains with 21 miles of beautiful coast is Malibu, known for its beautiful beaches and celebrity homes. Zuma Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Los Angeles is located here and with its four miles of beautiful wide sandy beaches makes it ideal for all family activities from climbing rocks, swimming, surfing, to just sun bathing.
Located in the Santa Monica Mountains is a hidden crown jewel, the Malibu Creek State Park which encompasses more than 8,000 acres of mountain peaks, rolling hills, oak savannas, and tall-grass plains. The breath-taking beauty of this land has been seen all over the world in movies, the most remember able was the long running television series of Mash. Getting to the Mash filming location requires a 3-mile hike one-way where the first portion is over a wide well graded path over rolling hills through oaks and tall grass; however, the last half mile becomes a little tricky, starting with having to cross Malibu Creek by walking across the log of a fallen Oak tree. The rest of the way in is a very narrow path over rocks and mud puddles through a thick lush forest. For some outstanding overlooks of the park, drive the Mulholland highway for 3-miles to Malibu Lake, which is also the home of Reagan Ranch.
For a short but breathtaking drive, take the Malibu Canyon Road from the State Park back to Malibu. The highway cuts right through the Santa Monica Mountains winding its way through the narrow canyon with towering cliffs on one side and straight drop-offs on the opposite side. As the highway pops out of the canyon the views of the mountains and Pacific Ocean are awe-inspiring.
Just South of Malibu along the Pacific Coast Highway is the ever so popular town of Santa Monica. With 3.5 miles of beaches, Santa Monica attracts all types of visitors, where the Northern section of the beach is separated from the city by an ocean bluff and the Pacific Coast Highway where a series of bridges and stairways provide access to the beaches. In contrast, the Southern section is level with the city and the beach side is filled with homes, hotels, and parking lots. Located in the central part of the beach is the ever so popular Santa Monica Pier where an amusement park, restaurants, and gift shops sit atop a wooden wharf, not to mention that after 2,448 miles, the Historic Route 66 completed its journey from Chicago here.
Just South of Long Beach along the Pacific Coast Highway is Laguna Beach, home of Crystal Cove State Park. The park has 3 miles of natural seashore with open spaces along the cliff tops where tall grass thrives. The 2.5 miles of paved trails along the cliff tops provide spectacular panoramic views of the ocean with several steep trails leading down to the beach. The Southern end of the park is the Historic District with 46 vintage coastal cottages built-in the 1930’s and 40’s which represents early examples of Southern California Coastal development.
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